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SOB’s doesn’t shy away from flavor

January 15, 2020
By NATHAN MAYBERG (nmayberg@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

When Smokin' Oyster Brewery chef Reid Freeman captured the Fort Myers Beach Woman's Club's competitive chili cook-off contest for the second year in a row in December, you had to take notice.

Freeman, who has been working at his family's Fort Myers Beach restaurant since he was a young boy, explained that he is never one to shy away from adding extra flavor and ingredients to his dishes.

Freeman won the contest outright in 2018 with his white chicken chili recipe and shared the top prize in 2019. The ingredients, he said, include a "smoky spice" as well as roasted poblano peppers, corn, fried tortilla, sweet and spicy cheddar cheese. He used the same recipe each time. "You never see these big barbecue guys change their ribs if they win (a contest) 10 years in a row," Freeman said.

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Smokin’ Oyster Brewery executive chef Reid Freeman grew up working in the family's business from a young age and helps run the restaurant.

NATHAN MAYBERG

The Fort Myers Beach-raised chef doesn't lack bravery when it comes to his cooking. "We're not a bland restaurant at all," he said. "I never want somebody to send back food and say it had no flavor. If they send it back and say it was too spicy, I'm OK with that."

Freeman's family purchased the restaurant on Old San Carlos Boulevard in 1998. By the time he was a teenager, Reid was helping to run the kitchen. He took cooking seriously enough that he enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu, a culinary institute. He is a certified executive chef and is classically trained in French cuisine. After graduating in 2007, he worked in Texas before moving back home about eight years ago.

"I love the Beach. It's a small, tight little community you fall in love with. It's tough going to Texas with no water," he said. "Here, you can go out in the morning before work and fly-fish." Freeman particularly enjoys fly-fishing for redfish and snook. "If I'm not working, I try to fish" he said.

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The Smokin' Oyster Brewery, also known as S.O.B., specializes in seafood. "We keep (the menu) very consistent," Freeman said. "We always being in fresh seafood from the gulf. On the weekend, I bring in some specialty items and get creative."

Freeman enjoys adding Asian and Hawaiian fusion spices and sauces to local cuisine. "Our main item is the mesquite-grilled grouper." The grouper is marinated with a smoky spice and cooked over a wood-burning grill, Freeman said. The chef calls the restaurant's garlic crabs, a local favorite. An example of some the eatery's specials include peanut butter and jelly wings with spiced mango jam, and fried oysters with deviled eggs and Tai chili. "I don't have set specials," Freeman said.

The menu includes a half dozen oyster choices such as "Uncle Vinny's oysters," which are topped with secret shrimp and crab stuffing with an aioli drizzle. There are also several shrimp options, scallops, clams by the dozen, crab buckets, Prince Edward Island mussels as well as different burger and chicken offerings. There are some offbeat sides such as red parsley potatoes and corn on the cob. The menu even includes a "you catch 'em, we cook 'em," offer.

The Smokin' Oyster Brewery kitchen opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. The bar closes at 11 p.m. There is also live music seven days a week featuring a rock and country mix.

As for the name, Freeman says "we get beaten up about that because we're a fictitious brewery. We don't brew onsite. We're more of a restaurant."

 
 

 

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